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All posts for the month July, 2009

Talking of Australian intellectals as we were very briefly in the previous post, by some spooky coincidence, I’ve been reading Bennett & Hacker “Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience” for the last couple of days. Hacker is P M S Hacker the Oxford philosopher, whereas M R Bennett is chair of physiology in Sydney.

Where to start ? I obtained this book something like 4 or 5 years ago – the bookmark is still a hotel key card from Jan 2005 – it was published in 2003. It was an obvious fit to my evolving agenda, but I found it pretty tough going, starting at chapter 1 and hoping to be enlightened. I didn’t get very far, though again it’s been with me several times in the “must try again if I get a moment” handful. It’s a 450 page, 250,000 word volume. Despite opening its covers a few times it was not until yesterday evening I noticed several things and started to make progress.

Firstly it is clearly a “reaction” to an overly scientific – reductionist – and popular approach to philosophy, against scientists particularly “brain scientists” and other “evolutionary biologists” over-reaching by believing they are explaining, even addressing and understanding philosophical problems in mind and consciousness.

Secondly, it is quite explicitly controversial – being a reaction to popular wisdom of our time.  The chapter index itself is 6 pages long – and I hadn’t noticed the explicit sub-headings addressing “objections” to current or recent scientists and philosophers in this space. You’ve met them here before – James, Crick, Nagel, Searle, Edelman, Sperry, Dennett, Damasio, Penrose, Chalmers and many more. In fact not only are there several chapters which discuss Searle and Dennett in the context of specific philosophy of mind issues, Dennett and Searle get a whole appendix each, devoted to “knocking down” their theses, conjectures and methods.

As an afficionado of Dennett’s work, I will have to take some time to reflect on what they have to say about Dennett, his “as if” intentional stance, and his “engineering” view of evolution, both genetic and memetic. I have to say I didn’t find Bennett and Hacker in the least convincing so far. (More on this another time – I’ve only read about 5% of this tome so far.)

Thirdly, as well as the cover blurb signalling controversy, there is an interesting foreword by Denis Noble, almost apologetic; opening with:

“This book was simply waiting to be written.” … and … “I must issue a warning that this book is highly controversial.”

The author’s emphasis. Further, Noble’s own view is:

Perhaps the problem for many scientists is to imagine what would happen if we abandoned the universality of the reductionist approach. For sure the nature of science would change. But so it should ! We would have to recognize that causation and explanation do not always run from lower to higher levels. And surely, at a time when we have already come to understand the extent to which causation runs in the opposite drection (higher-level states in biological systems even influence something as fundamentally low-level as gene expression), how can we possibly imagine that we will progress without recognizing the validity of explanations on all levels ? One of the criteria for determining the level at which explanation succeeds is to ask what can sensibly be ascribed at different levels. It does not make any sense to look for explanations at levels lower than that for the applicability of the relevant predicates.

This is particularly true of rational behaviour, including the use of language … We cannot, coherently, deny our own rationality. Otherwise we would have difficulty meaning what we say or being convincing in saying it … If we really could succeed in “reducing” rational behaviour simply to molecular or cellular causation then we would no longer be able to meaningfully express the truth of what we had succeeded in doing … such a complete explanation of mechanisms at one level does not necessarily explain what exists and happens at higher levels.

Sounds good to me, and I could not imagine (say) Dennett taking issue with that either. “Reductionism” is a hollow charge – surely people spend effort understanding the mechanisms in a lower level only in order to show that the higher level patterns and processes can emerge and be supported. Once that is established, causal explanations are provide in those levels, without any crass attempt to explain the higher simply in terms of the lower. I can’t think of a credible scientist or philosopher that would do that ? That would be “greedy reductionism” to draw on Dennett again – a straw man invented by critics, never a tool of the enlightened.

[Post Note 5 Aug : I have read on through several chapters but still find that despite the huge range of Philosophy of Mind subjects, and an excellent potted history of life and soul since Aristotle, the objections all really seem to be against the straw-man of reductionism - taking quite exclusive interpretation of "ways of speaking" as literal. Criticism based on narrow views rather than more inclusive views. - I'll write more if anyone is interested, but this is looking like a dead end progress-wise. A good reference source though.

Furhermore, I must check the history of any debate involving Dennett responding to these critics - I wouldn't surprised if his recent emphasis on "reductionism doesn't have to be greedy" and "determinism is OK" were developed to address these ?]

[Post Post Note, 13 Jan 2011. Recently found that Dennett did respond and now obtained Bennett, Dennett, Hacker & Searle - "Neuroscience and Philosophy" Cover blurb quote from Akeel Bilgrami of Columbia Uni:

"If you can get sworn and unrestrained philosophical enemies such as Dennett and Searle to join forces against you, you must be ... the controversialists of our time."

Linked in a recent reference to Hacker and Wittgenstein, incidentally about blaming, creating enemies, in debate with opponents.]

Read and recently re-read “The Emerging Mind” originally prepared as the 2003 BBC Reith Lectures byVilayanur Ramachandran – Rama to his friends aparently.

First time through (the book) I was initially disappointed (as ever) but in fact the book of 5 lectures is a gem. I was initially put off by his early suggestion that studying neurological syndromes “had largely been ignored” as a means of acquiring insights into normal brain functions. My experience of much research reading is that this is become the standard means to understand brain functions from the study of individual “malfunctions”. I even suggested it had become a meme in itself, although clearly normal science often proceeds by observing narrower variables within wider controlling conditions. Anyway, Rama is no different to many others in presenting such examples from his case-book. Edelman, Zeman, Austin, Sacks, Wegner, Damasio to name a few.

Where he is different is in being brief, engaging and witty – a great place to start for anyone sceptical or ignorant of real evidence of neural correlates of conscious and subconscious mental behaviour.

Several specific things I liked.

Some very simply presented stats, glossary and physical brain anatomy.

A good debunking of the idea that Libet had shown free-will to be illusory. Wegner and Blackmore take note.

A very powerful, physically and phonetically symbolic, case for the complete evolution of spoken language – leaving Chomsky well behind and building where Pinker leaves off.

“Apologetic” but necessary use of “meta” level concepts – supervisory / control levels of free-wont etc – perilously close metaphorically to the old homunculus idea or the “Cartesian Theatre”. Apologetic, because “meta” terms are often associated with woolly-thinking arm-waving social scientists he says – but clearly well-founded enough for this eminent scientist to use them.

“Apologetic” use of apt Indian mystical  metaphors. They might not sound scientific but to this eminent scientist they fit the observed facts.

A tremendous stock of notes and references to reading others – many I already have. As Sacks joked with Rama previously “The real book is in the end-notes.”

A hugely optimistic proposition that neuroscience is the new philosophy, and that the only sensible view of anything is the evolutionary one. Needless to say Dennett figures highly in the notes and references. [Post Note : Must review Hacker and Bennett "Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience"].  He also suggests:

“No enterprise is more vital to the well being and survival of the human race [than understanding the human brain]. This is just as true now as it was in the past. Remember that politics, colonialism, imperialism and war all originate in the human brain.”

‘Twas ever thus. So apart from taking a wider view of “the brain” as part of a wider physio-chemical human information processing system – see Damasio and somatic markers earlier – not much to disagree with. A wonderful little resource.

Interesting seminar from FIATECH by Jerome Glenn of The Millennium Project – trans-institutional think tank on forecastsing preparing for the future. (See the 15 challenges).

Maturing technology possibilities and the highest level sustainability and ethical conflict agenda presented in a business environment. eg genetic engineering of self-organizing (new) lifeforms anyone ? (See previous Josephson link.) A positive up-beat can do aproach rather than a crisis and desperation message.

Ethics top of a list of 10 most significant “beneficial elements” for the next 20 years. And “bi-modal” issues where people generaly see split decision between only two options – excluding middles – as well as the already fashionable democratization of information and associated technologies – collective intelligence as an “emergent property”.

Wow – perhaps these guys are getting it ? Must follow-up.

Thanks to PZ Myers for the links to this Jerry Coyne piece on Francis Collins (Obama’s choice for NIH Director) lecture at UC Berkeley. (And a review by Sam Harris.)

Dr. Collins will have more responsibility for biomedical and health-related research than any person on earth, controlling an annual budget of more than $30 billion. He will also be one of the foremost representatives of science in the United States. For this reason, it is important that we understand Dr. Collins and his faith as they relate to scientific inquiry.

Must we really entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who sincerely believes that a scientific understanding of human nature is impossible?

Scary – thoughts to follow, afer this paraphrase of Collins story: (Note that Harris, Coyne and Myers all quote the five/six bullets – presented in slides and elaborated in speech.)

START SUMMARY

Compare – York Minster Rose Window
With – End View of DNA
Can take a  s
piritual view ?
[Post Note - My hero Jacob Bronowski makes a very similar observation about the symmetrical beauty of the end view of DNA in "The Ascent of Man"]

Home-schooled (non-religious). Agnostic >> Quantum Physics & Mathematics >> Atheist >> Biology (digital nature) >> Med School >> People >> Death >> Comfort >> Decision-making rigour >> Why believe anything ? >> CS Lewis (Mere Christianity) >> Plausibility of God >> Doubting atheism >> Faith might be a rational choice.
[So far so good.]

Limits of Naturalism – Questions self-evidently not amenable to science
Why is there something rather than nothing ?
Why am I here anyway ?
What happens after I die ?
Is there a (supernatural) God (ie outside natural science) ?

Pointers / suggestions against strict atheism.
(Critics note – Collins doesn’t in fact present these as scientific theses or assertions. Just “pointers” notice. Though later he clearly does talk of his Christian faith in a personal God in a scientific context with much greater certainty.)

  • There is something rather than nothing.
  • Amenability of nature to pure / elegant maths – a mathematical “construction” by design.
  • A beginning – the big-bang / expansion – creator has to be super-natural otherwise infinite regress of first cause (the something rather than nothing).
  • Fine tuning argument – evolution of human complexity “planned into” physical constants. Cannot be coincidence – either infinite parallel multiverses (explaining nothing) or laws set “on purpose”. ie anthropic arguments.
  • The Moral Law – CS Lewis “right & wrong”. Radical altruism (Oskar Schindler / Dirk Willems).

He’s not a philosopher, but …. Kant. >> Jesus >> Faith >> Colbert Q&A !

Evolution is a very sound theory (as sound as Gravity). Evolution does not violate the 2nd Law (of Thermodynamics). DNA is the main “fossil record” with high certainty. Specific examples in human chromosome-2 & pseudogene evidence.

Dawkins God delusion >> GK Chesterton >> See Time Magazine “God vs Science” >> The “kind of god” is the key issue of supernatural possibility >> (Jose ?) Ayala >> St.Augustine’s Genesis (ie without Prejudice – ie Boundary to nature always being pushed back) >> No to “Young Earth” Creationism, No to Intelligent Design, No to “irreducible complexity” arguments, No to “god of the gaps”.

God’s plan – presented as Collins thesis:
(claimed by the America Science Affiliation)

Almighty God, who is not limited in space and time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago, with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.

God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most expecially that creative plan inlcuded human beings.

After evolution had planned a sufficiently advanced “house” (the human brain) God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (The moral law), with free will and with an immortal soul.

We humans used our free will to break the moral law leading to our estrangement from God (Adam & Eve). For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.

If moral law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as right or wrong; good or evil. It’s all an illusion. This is a profound consequence of the atheistic view.

What to call this “Theistic Evolution” ?
Bios (Life) Logos (The Word) …. “speaking life into being”.

END SUMMARY

Some (but not all) of that is scary.

In a large measure, the issues that turned Collins towards theistic belief are the issues that leave me interested in metaphysics and fundamental physics – but no less certain of evolutionary explanations of the cosmos on all levels – including human nature and ethics / moral law.

(1) The “something rather than nothing” - first-cause / creation – question, and that something including the fundamental axioms and laws ?

(2) The “anthropic” & “fine-tuning” views that suggest our place may be special in some pre-ordained teleological sense ?

The emergence of something complex from nothing (nothing material) is not difficult to accept – but that doesn’t explain an event that “started”  the cosmos and/or time – or any “medium” in which that event occurred. Time and causation are in fact the problematic concepts, where our common sense views are probably flawed. Whatever our metaphysical foundation, we will never get a scientific view from the other side of that event – all metaphysics must suffer from this super-natural hole in its foundation. But that does not say we cannot continue to approach it scientifically, from our side, asymptotically pushing back the boundaries of the knowable world and re-organizing the known world as we do so.

The anthropic question suffers from two problems – one is the illusion of fine tuning which may well be a result of an existing error in quantum / gravitational physics that throws all our calculations out (a la Island). In fact the inelegance is a clue to the error itself. the second is the priviledged human perpective which tends to forget that evolution here or in any supportive environment could have evolved non-human forms of higher intelligence.

None of the other issues about pre-ordained planning and moral laws are an issue. It is quite credible to take the evolutionary view that these emerged. After-life and soul too seem to have little evidence that cannot be rationalized with evolved psychology, and shared consciousness ? This view does not in any way destroy their value or sense of purpose toward greater goods, in fact it surely makes them all the more awesome and treasured. Such teleology is itself evolved in higher-intelligence-nature, quite closely related to Collins own point about evolution being (more than) consistent with the 2nd Law.

The very existence of the fundaments of nature must remain ineffable and awesome – “god given” if you like. Some measure of “faith” in a metaphysical basis – contingent faith in the Augustinian sense – is perfectly reasonable and pragmatic. And god knows, we can all use prophets prepared to teach us the state of the art and significance of our evolved moral laws. If in doubt follow the wise … and learn … but take care worshipping idols.

I am also pretty cool with a “word” metaphor for that ineffable god-head – the source of nature. I happen to have an epistemic metaphysics,  fundamentally algorithmic, significant informational view of fundamental physics which can explain anything and everything evolving from nothing (a la Hofstader or Rowlands say).

But there is absolutely no argument to turn that into a scientifically justified belief in an omniscient, omnipotent (fallible or infallible), pre-planning or ongoing interventionist personal God, beyond the origin of the fundamental laws and axioms (whatever that means).

I too am a creationist in part, in the same sense as Collins – there is (always will be) something supernatural to explain – even Dawkins seems to have a chink on that score. God is an OK metaphor for faith in this this awesome, ineffable, supernatural “first-cause” of nature itself - bearing in mind that cause itself is something that needs explaining anyway. It’s why I care enough to be neither agnostic nor even atheist, but rather non-theist – there is no god in the natural world, whether there is a super-natural one or not. That fact in itself should create doubt that there is even likely to be a supernatural one, other than as a pragmatic metaphor for that which remains to be known at the original boundaries of existence.

But oh dear; … He this, His that … entangled with his ongoing scientific thinking – that is scary Mr Collins. Downright woolly thinking. It belies the limits to his areas of scientific and philosophical expertise.

Pragmatically, as was suggested when Collins was first nominated – perhaps he is a good political compromise “theist” to have in a US position of scientific power – more than palatable to moderate, (even less-moderate) believers. Perhaps there is a bigger picture here ? Less chance of a Dawkins (dare I say a Ditchkins) turning science into an ill-informed, one-sided and bloody crusade against opposing faiths ? Science pollutes religion too.

Controversy is good for selling books, and Joan Roughgarden’s “The Genial Gene”  is already on my list – but good to see this dampener from New Scientist. Good because it’s the story I’ve been peddling for quite some time.

After all, most behavioural ecologists admit that it is sometimes in an individual’s best interest to cooperate with its neighbours and mates. And certainly all, probably even Roughgarden, would agree that there are times when competition is the order of the day. If the debate comes down to a question of how often and under what conditions, Roughgarden’s new theory is likely to end up an important extension to existing thought, and not a revolutionary departure from it. Appropriately, Roughgarden and her critics are likely to have more to gain from cooperation than from conflict.

Thanks to Sam for this link to this Terry Eagleton interview by Laurie Taylor in the New Humanist. Pretty sure I have this original link to Eagleton’s review of The God Delusion, but just in case.

Great interview anyway. Several points to pick-up on …

the inevitability of progress

Eagleton referring to Dawkins beliefs. The idea that evolution inevitably moves toward greater good – almost a definition of evolution for the Dawkins-style Darwinist. Given that Dawkins coined the selfish-gene / meme idea, that is brutally ignorant of humans. Meme’s can be very bad for our own good. OK so humans are not the be-all and end-all of progress, by any measure, but can we already simply be redundant hosts ? I think not.

his own contradictions are worn with pride as symbols of ineffable profundity

PZ Myers quote about Eagleton. If we could just unpick that pejorative “worn with pride” phrasing, I would have to identify with that myself. Contradiction is a matter of perspective, the profundity is only ineffable if you are static in your viewpoint.

(Also some good stuff on being dismissive of PoMo’s and PoPoMo’s – Foucault, Derrida, Lacan … wonder where he joins up with Zizek and Sloterdijk ? Also some good stuff on a certain – non-blind-faith – kind of certainty. Fits my reading of Harris.)

[Post Note - interesting blog from William Crawley - which also inlcudes a link to this Salon review by Andrew O'Hehir.]

Two pre-amble points.

Firstly, in a way, arriving at a “working understanding”, as opposed to a “definition”, is part of what radical empiricism is about. Going directly from phenomena experienced to definion is too intellectual too quick and misses out the radical empiricism itself.

Secondly, the term “radical” is easy to misuse. Dave Buchanan accused me of misunderstanding the term as used in radical empiricism (and he was right too) some time ago – but in fact we do need to be concern with two different meanings. Radical, as in outside established norms, reactionary to received wisdom … is relevant. Mentioned this aspect recently when looking at Zizek and Sloterdijk – some ideas only make sense in that non-socialized -  original “Kynic” – context. Interestingly Matt Kundert made this same point about James and his radical empiricism at the time – being radical in this counter-culture sense.

But this is just preamble. What of radical in the radical empiricist sense … radical as in fundamentally significant. What follows is my own rewording of an exchange between Matt, Dave and myelf from several months ago …. a snippet of conversation that has sat in my draft posts folder for quite some time.

This was my conclusion:

Radical Empricism takes the idea of empricism so far back from conceptualized models of the world as to take it back beyond even any preconceptualized, atomistic (greedy reductionist) view of the world as objects. A kind of “total” empiricism, (immediate or pre-conceptual) purged of any vestige of pre-conception. It is taking the preconceptions of objectification out of experience (out of both the senses of experience and the phenomena experienced).

What follows is the original mail snippets. (The water / river metaphor is a good one … used elsewhere,)

Ian - I’ve been trying to get an understanding of what radical empricism really is, beyond what I already understand by empricism, post-Dewey-James-Pirsig-Rorty. Thanks for picking this up Matt.

Ian - I actually think I agree more with DMB than you here in the end, but the point is I believe we have converged on an understanding (for me) of what “radical empiricism” is.

Matt-  James’s sense was that the relations between things (atoms) were as directly experienced as anything else, and this old thought of his, as > DMB said, eventually turned into his doctrine of radical empiricism.

Ian - Right, so if you don’t hold a reductionist / atomist view of the word to start with then (obviously) “relations are as directly experienced as anything else” …. we are still simply talking about what is experienced. (Turning anything into a doctrine sounds the potentially scary bit … the politics …) So beyond that simple statement what actually is “radical empiricism” …. ?

Matt - DMB is also right to suppose that thought of James’s is in line with what I called panrelationalism.  Atomism is when you think experiences, or perceptions, or language can be broken down into little non-breakdownable nuggets (qualia, sensa, words, etc.), and these nuggets are the real part of the bigger thing, and the bigger thing only works when it stretches back to these little things.  Opposed to this is holism, and James wanted to be a holist about experience, which is where his “stream of consciousness” metaphor comes from.

Ian – exactly. Whether we talk in “streams of consciousness” terms or not, I see that holistic view (non-reductionist / atomist view) of experience and what is experienced.

Matt - Experience isn’t sifting through a bunch of rocks, its more like water, which can be dipped into and separated from the river, but it all kinda’ depends on what kind of bucket you are using (a way of saying things are relative to purpose, a pragmatist master concept).

Matt - My entire so-called problem with radical empiricism is really just a problem with using the direct/indirect distinction at all at this level of conversation about experience (or language or whatever).  For the traditional empiricist, the senses are the direct part.  But James wants to toss that.  But then, what’s left to be direct?  I don’t believe DMB answered your question directly: are the first five [senses] also what a pragmatist considers direct experience?  The radical empiricist has to answer no, but once you’ve let thoughts into the area, what are we throwing up in the way so that something becomes indirect?  In the atomist picture, life is like a dude in a quarry, picking through reality-rocks, and when you aren’t in touch with the rocks, you’re not with reality (hence, the correspondence theory of truth).  But on James’s metaphor, life is like being in a river, and when you’re in a river, you’re never not in contact with the river.

Ian – Actually I have no problem with that metaphor … when you are in a river you experience the water and its motion etc. You are not experiencing “a river”, not without some pre-conceptual (pre-experienced) idea of a river as a whole collection of water with a lifecycle, beginning and end, non-salinity, bounded by river-banks, and some emergent identity as a river from all of that – you do not get that from the direct / immediate experience alone – just the water and its motion (it’s all process anyway).

Ian – If that’s what “radical empricism” is. I have no problem with it. It is taking the preconceptions of objectification out of experience (out of BOTH the senses of experience and the phenomena experienced).

Matt - I recently said, in a post to Bo, that Pirsig’s empiricist rhetoric can get in the way.  I don’t take this as a strike against radical empiricism, though, because I take holism to be the centerpiece (and the Quality thesis to be intrinsically holist).

Ian – An empricism that recognizes the holism in what is experienced before the holism in the concepts arising sounds right. When you say “holistic” where I might say “strange loopy” … this is just a choice of language. Language gets in the way of successful discourse about these subjects, hence the need to repeat, recycle the debate in different words. But it doesn’t get in the way of this direct-experience / conceptualized distinction. Not for me now anyway. All seems clear.

Ian – Radical Empricism takes the “doctrine” of empricism so far back from conceptualized models of the world as to take it back beyond even any preconceptualized, atomistic (greedy reductionist) view of the world as objects. A kind of “total” empiricism, purged of any vestige of pre-conception. I’d like to think I’m there. (It’s been obvious from Pirsig readings all along … just a matter of finding the words.)

Matt – A radical revolutionary isn’t an official part of the political system–they are in the business of overturning the political system. And just so with James’s radical empiricism.

Ian – I just know from prior experience that DMB is going to say that is misuse of the term “radical” here. (and I agree with him) Perhaps I missed your irony Matt, you old Rortian you ;-)

Ian – The $64,000 question is how does this change the “values” and PoV’s in the applied world of pragmatism. I guess it stops us falling into a few more conceptual traps, avoiding applying our day-to-day logic to mis-conceived objects more thoroughly.

I like to think of myself as (I’ve even been branded) a “sophisticated atheist” and, as an “open-minded scientist”, I’ve been a fan for several years of  Brian Josephson; staunch Nodel-laureate defender against bad knee-jerk science.

Feb 2009 article here from Brian, about the case last year where Michael Reiss (a Theist) came to “step down” from his position as director of education for The Royal Society after making a speech at the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Interesting that what Reiss said was perfectly reasonable, yet atheistic fundamentalists (including Harry Kroto) succeeded in making his position impossible. Doubly interesting : a “brownie point” for arch-atheist Dawkins as a reasonable voice on the side of good sense in this case. And after posing some tough questions to The Royal Society, how about this for a conclusion ?

I think it very likely that … those attacking religion per se will be proved wrong by science.
Brian Josephson.

I’ve been thinking of something positive to say about Antonio Damasio’s Somatic Marker Theory since finishing “Descartes’ Error”.

For anyone who believes …

  • the common-sense view of decison-making is a logical sequence of weighing up all available options objectively.
  • the common-sense view of mind and body involves understanding the “brain” distinct from the “body proper”.
  • the common-sense view of mind is as a software program running on that brain hardware.

… the somatic marker idea will add something – the idea that memory of good and bad as immediate inputs to any decision-making thought process reside as markers – persisted patterns – in the body (soma) as a whole.

To me the common-sense IS this visceral gut-feel. Mind, thought and consciousness (prejudiced as well as rational) are well to think of as software running on hardware. BUT clearly the “brain” hardware is more than the spongy bits in the skull – it’s the whole neuro-chemical network of high-brain, low-brain, stem, cord, nervous system, AND the the chemical signalling and response systems. This is one complex system. The common sense distinction is still there beteween the bio-physio-chemical hardware and the dynamic patterns - many levels of patterns upon and within patterns, feed-back as well as feed-forward – as the software; software that is much more than “a program” of course. And hardly surprising since mind, brain and body can only have co-evolved. No-one came along to install the software after the hardware had been assembled.

A chapter at the end of Damasio – somewhat apologetically pointing out which particular aspects of Descartes actually led him to use the name in his title – to blame Descartes. However it is clear that Damasio sees his audience starting with a very firmly divided duality view of the word as a whole. In that sense I was clearly never his audience.

As I said already for anyone wanting “scientific” physio-neuro-psycho “evidence” of neural-correlates and the like, that demonstrate the systematic inter-connectivity of the whole, then Damasio adds to the pile available, and is as good a starting point as any of those I’ve listed before; Austin, Sacks, Zeman, Edelman, … apologies for any I’ve missed.

Where would popular science publishing be without Phineas Gage ?
Now that IS a meme.